Reconciliation Action Plan

Brisbane City Council is committed to working collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to develop strategies and programs that acknowledge and value the unique contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to our city.

As part of our commitment to achieving better recognition and celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures, Council has developed our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which will guide our ongoing efforts towards reconciliation.

Acknowledgement of Country

Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We acknowledge and respect the spiritual relationship between Traditional Custodians and this Country, which has inspired language, songs, dances, lore and dreaming stories over many thousands of years. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.

May we continue to peacefully walk together in gratitude, respect and kindness in caring for this Country and one another.

Our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan

Council’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan provides an opportunity for Council and communities to continue to build on previous successes and sustain reconciliation outcomes through a plan of action built on the themes of relationships, respect and opportunities, that acknowledges the past and builds opportunities for the future.

The deliverables outlined in Council’s two-year Innovate RAP further embed Council’s approach to reconciliation while supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and ensuring the Brisbane of tomorrow is even better than the Brisbane of today.

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Working together towards reconciliation

Since 2004, Council has worked collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to develop strategies and programs that acknowledge and value the unique and significant contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make to the city.

Our vision for reconciliation

Our vision for reconciliation is to build a Brisbane in which:

  • Traditional Custodians’ connections to land and water are acknowledged and respected;
  • histories are understood with acceptance of the shared and often difficult truths of our past; and
  • the diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living within the Brisbane region are understood and valued.

Council also recognises the significant benefits of economic development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and aims to ensure Brisbane is a city where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women, young people and business owners have sustainable employment and economic opportunities and are supported in these endeavours.

Our journey so far

1996

Nurri Millen totem trail at the Boondall Wetlands opens. Nationally renowned Indigenous artist, the late Ron Hurley, worked with six local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to study, research and reinforce their local cultural identity through a series of contemporary totems that form part of Council’s public art collection.

1998

Commemorative Sorry Day plaques were installed at six culturally and historically significant sites across Brisbane as a mark of respect, apology, remembrance and recognition of the children and families of the Stolen Generation.

2004

Brisbane City Council adopted its first Indigenous Aspirations Strategy (IAS).

2007

One park per ward was signed with an Aboriginal dual name based on consultation with Traditional Custodian groups and research on the cultural significance of parks and open spaces across Brisbane.

2008

Council established the Indigenous team, later renamed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team. The team aims to strengthen relationships and connections to Brisbane’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and provide opportunities for them to engage in shaping the life of the city.

2008

Black History Month launches in July to showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, heritage and cultures through a range of activities for the broader community.

2014

Council launches Gathering in the Queen Street Mall, a weekly program of contemporary and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performances. It remains the only program of its kind happening weekly in the heart of an Australian capital city.   

2015

Refurbishment of Jagera Community Hall at Musgrave Park. Traditionally the park was a meeting place for many Aboriginal people particularly Traditional Custodians and is home to one of the largest annual NAIDOC celebrations in Australia.

2016

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk holds the first Lord Mayor’s Meeting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Members in what immediately became a biannual event strengthening relationships and providing opportunities for Elders and community members to discuss matters of importance for their communities.

2016

The annual Indigenous Art Program (previously named Maiwar) launches, exhibiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks in public spaces in the CBD.

2019

Council begins developing its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in consultation with community members.

2019

Council established Communities of Inclusion – One Council One Mob for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and their allies. The group work together to collaborate and advocate to build greater understanding and knowledge across the cultures for the whole of Council.   

2019

Council moved a motion of support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart to support the recognition of First Nations peoples in the Australian Constitution. The motion was supported as follows:

Following the second anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and in the spirit of reconciliation commits to walking with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a movement for a better future.

Supports the consideration of a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth‑telling.

Acknowledges the recent appointment of Australia’s first Indigenous Minster for Indigenous Affairs, Ken Wyatt, and agrees with the Minister’s approach to the proposal recommended in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Hears the continued call for a better future built on the foundations of respect and fairness.

2020-2021

Community consultation on the RAP was paused due to the potential impacts of COVID-19 on local residents.

2022

Consultation resumes and Council’s first Innovate RAP is launched.

Indigenous Aspirations Strategy

Preceding the Innovate RAP, Council adopted its first Indigenous Aspirations Strategy (IAS) in 2004 following engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community groups to better understand their specific needs. From these discussions it was clear that the community wanted to work in partnership with Council to develop programs for their communities. 

At the time of its release, the IAS reflected leading practice for local government in Australia and built on Council's commitment to creating a city the equally values its history and looks to its future. The strategy was designed to meet the aspirations, hopes and visions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Brisbane and to bring a more coordinated approach to Council’s programs and services. As a result, many important community initiatives were implemented.

Caring for Country – Land, Water and Sky

Created exclusively for Council’s Innovate RAP, Caring for Country – Land, Water and Sky by Riki Salam depicts the Brisbane River and how it flows from Freshwater Country to Saltwater Country travelling from the West to the East out to Moreton Bay. (Read artwork from left to right).

Image of Riki Salam's Caring for Country; Land, Water and Sky artwork.

The river cuts through different landscapes as it journeys its way to the bay and beyond. Water is the lifeforce of this land; it carries knowledge of Country and Culture. It traverses many significant sites and meeting places along the way – Mount Coot-tha place of the honey bee to Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) where the lightning plays in the sandhills. All these sites are mapped out across the artwork, the central circle represents Brisbane City and Brisbane City Council.

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The greater circle with the ‘U’ shaped symbols represents the Council members. The concentric circles radiating outward from the centre represent the divisions within Council.

Above and below the river line are two Dreaming Tracks that depict significant totems or animals to the Brisbane and surrounding areas. Goanna, native honey bee, swamp hen, echidna, emu, mullet and the black duck. The river represents the rainbow serpent.

The six empty circles in various locations across Brisbane depict the memorial sites of the Stolen Generations – children who were wrongfully taken away from their families in the early 1900s under an Australian Government policy that targeted Aboriginal people.

Water flows out to the bay with significant islands depicted that of Mulgumpin and Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island).

This artwork is about Caring for Country and how the Traditional Custodians of the land, water and sky – that surround what we now know as the modern-day Brisbane – have looked after this place since time immemorial. They belong to this land and this Country through story, song, dance and art. They have cared for this place and kept knowledge of its true spirit alive. With this knowledge they work together in the spirit of reconciliation with members of Council and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from other Nations that call Brisbane home.

Riki Salam (Mualgal, Kaurareg, Kuku Yalanji)

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More information

To find out more about Council’s reconciliation journey or the Reconciliation Action Plan, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.

Last updated: 31 August 2022

Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.